Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Doon Valley Rises Against Coca Cola Organize a Rally to Say No to Coca-Cola,
More than 1,200 people took part in a Rally on tractor trolleys, jeeps, cars, buses and motorcycles from Daak Patthar Barrage on Yamuna river about 12 km away from the Charba village, in Doon Valley where Coca-Cola plans to set up its plant. Young and old, villagers and city dwellers became one in saying, “Coca-Cola is poison; it is wrecking havoc on our nation” , “In a country of milk and curd; Coke and Pepsi is absurd”, ”Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola; leave India, leave India”, and “Your plan on our land, will not work, will not work”.continue reading
Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2013
Technologies are tools for doing or making things. They are a means to transform what nature has given into food, clothing, shelter, means of mobility, means of communication. Technology is a means to an end; it is not an end in itself.
But when we stop perceiving technology as a means mediating between nature and human needs and elevate it to an end in itself, we falsely give it the status of a religion. The Green Revolution bred seeds to respond to chemical fertilisers — they were called “miracle seeds”. The father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, called the 12 people he sent across the world to spread chemicals by introducing new seeds his “wheat apostles”. This is the discourse of religion, not of science and technology.
When the Green Revolution was introduced in India in 1965-66, no assessment was made of the impact chemical fertiliser will have on soil organisms, soil structure and the soil’s water-holding capacity. No attempt was made to compare the yields of Green Revolution varieties and the outputs of indigenous varieties and mixed farming system. When we started to conserve native seeds through the Navdanya movement in 1987, we found many of the indigenous varieties outperformed the Green Revolution varieties in grain yield. They also outperformed them in total biomass yield — this really matters because while the grain is eaten by humans, straw is food for soil organisms and farm animals. Our work on mixtures and biodiverse systems of farming shows that as a system, indigenous biodiversity produces more food and nutrition per acre.
If we had a scientific approach to making choices about the technologies we use to produce our food, agroecology would win hands down. But the Green Revolution is promoted blindly as a religion, and not on the basis of science. Why else would finance minister P. Chidambaram announce in his Budget speech that the Green Revolution, which has destroyed the soil, water, biodiversity of Punjab, would now be expanded to eastern India?
Is the government trying to impose the cancer epidemic of Punjab on Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand? Does it want to deplete and poison the waters of eastern India like it did to the waters of Punjab? Does it want the rich biodiversity of eastern India to disappear like the biodiversity of Punjab has disappeared to create monocultures of rice and wheat?
In the language of doublespeak, through a “memorandum of understanding” with biotech corporation Monsanto, the Punjab government is now introducing hybrid maize in the name of “diversification”. Substituting one monoculture with another is not diversification, putting more diversity on our farms is. More than 75 per cent of hybrid maize goes for industrial use, especially animal feed. This is not a food system to reduce the hunger of people; it is a system to supply profits for the insatiable greed of corporations and industry. While feeding the hungry is the mantra, the real religion is greed.
Genetic engineering is the latest technology being imposed on India and the world as the new miracle. There are only three groups of GMO (genetically modified organisms) applications — Bt crops that are supposed to control pests, herbicide resistant crops that are supposed to control weeds, and future promises of biofortification in the form of Golden Rice for addressing Vitamin A deficiency, and GMO bananas for removing iron deficiency.
When we assess genetic engineering as a tool that aims to achieve the objectives of reducing pests and weeds or increases Vitamin A and iron, it clearly fails the test. GMOs have created superpests and superweeds instead of reducing pests and weeds. Golden rice is 7,000 per cent less efficient in providing Vitamin A and GMO bananas will be 3,000 per cent less efficient in providing iron than alternatives available in our rich but rapidly disappearing biodiversity. GMOs continue to be promoted as a religion in spite of all the evidence that they are failing to do the job they are designed for.
And as in religious fundamentalism, here also there is intolerance of alternatives — alternative paradigms, alternative approaches to food production and independent science. We are already witnessing the viciousness with which the industry attacks anyone who provides an alternative. The new Seed Legislation introduced by the European Commission on May 6, 2013, is a desperate attempt by the biotechnology industry to criminalise the alternative of open source seeds for farms and gardens in order to establish a monopoly of the seed and biotechnology industry. Another example is the attack on scientists whose scientific research has provided evidence of harm. The more the industry claims that the GMO debate is about science, the more they silence science and replace it with their pseudo-religion. Technological determinism replaces technological pluralism. Technological totalitarianism replaces democratic choice and responsibility.
A consequence of making technology an end rather than a means is ignoring its impacts and failing to take responsibility for the harm it does to nature and people. The ultimate expression of irresponsibility is to create immunity for those who cause harm. A recent example is the Monsanto Protection Act in the US which allows agricultural companies such as Monsanto to ignore court orders against selling genetically-engineered seeds. Similarly, the Government of India has prepared a draft bill to establish the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI). According to the bill, the authority will be an autonomous and statutory agency to regulate the research, transport, import, manufacture and use of organisms and products of modern biotechnology.
GMO today means “god move over”. But genetic engineering in not a game of lego in which genes can be moved around without any impact on the organism or the environment. It is time to put nature and people back in the technology narrative. It is time to see technology as a tool, and not an end that defines a new fundamentalist religion through which corporations become the new gods.
Posted on Friday, May 3rd, 2013
India’s Monsanto Protection Act
The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill 2013continue reading
Posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Food is our nourishment. It is the source of life. Growing food, processing, transforming and distributing it involves 70 per cent of humanity. Eating food involves all of us. Yet, it is not the culture or human rights that are shaping today’s dominant food economy. Rather speculation and profits are designing food production and distribution. Putting food on the global financial casino is a design for hunger.
Posted on Friday, September 7th, 2012
by Dr Vandana Shiva
Reports trying to create doubts aboutOrganic Agriculture are suddenly flooding the media. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, people are fed up of the corporate assault of toxics and GMOs. Secondly people are turning to organic agriculture and organic food as a way to end the toxic war against the Earth and our bodies. At a time when industry has set its eyes on the super profits to be harvested from seed monopolies through patented seeds and seeds engineered with toxic genes and genes for making crops resistant to herbicides, people are seeking food freedom through organic , nonindustrial food. The food revolution is the biggest revolution of our times, and industry is panicking. So it spins propaganda, hoping that in the footsteps of Goebbel, a lie told a hundred times will become the truth. But food is different. We are what we eat. We are our own barometers. Our farms and our bodies are our labs, and every farmer and every citizen is a scientist who knows best how bad farming and bad food hurts the land and our health, and how good farming and good food heals the planet and peoplecontinue reading
Posted on Friday, July 13th, 2012
A lively gathering of people from all walks of life including farmers, activists, scientist, legal experts and students have committed themselves to the fight for the protection of seed sovereignty. The Bija Swaraj meeting hosted by Navdanya brought the participants together, resulting in the successful foundation of a national alliance to collaborate to reclaim India’s seed freedom and biological diversity. The movement will kick start with a Bija Satyagraha on Gandhi Jayanti in Delhi.continue reading
Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Vandana Shiva (from the Asian Age 23/05/2012)
In June 2012, world leaders along with thousands of participants from governments, NGOs and environmental groups as well as the private sector will come together in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for Rio+20, 20 years after the Earth Summit was organised by the UN in 1992, to address urgent ecological challenges such as extinction of species, erosion of biodiversity and climate change. The Earth Summit gave us two significant international environmental laws — the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It also gave us the Rio principles, including the precautionary principle, and the “polluter pays” principle.
The world has changed radically since 1992 and, sadly, not for the better. Ecological sustainability has been systematically sacrificed for a particular model of economy, which itself is in crisis.
The year 1995 saw a tectonic shift in values guiding our decisions together with a shift with regard to those who make those decisions. It was the year the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established. Whereas the Rio principles — shaped by ecological movements, ecological science and by sovereign governments — were informed by values of ecological sustainability, social justice and economic equity across and within the countries, the WTO introduced the paradigm of global corporate rule, changing the values and structures of governance and decision-making through free trade agreements between nations.
Conservation of the earth’s resources and equitable sharing were over the years replaced by greed and the grabbing and privatisation of resources across the globe. Sustainable economies and societies were replaced by non-sustainable production systems and a relentless drive to spread the virus of consumerism. Decision-making moved into the hands of global corporations, both directly and indirectly. It is, therefore, not surprising that when we meet at Rio+ 20, the ecological crisis is deeper than what it was at the time of the Earth Summit.
While the corporations wrote the rules of WTO and global free trade, they also subverted the environmental rules that were supposed to regulate their commercial activities to ensure sustainability. They have mutated environmental laws that were supposed to regulate commerce into laws for commercialising and commodifying the earth’s resources and ecological functions. They have subverted the Climate Treaty (derived from UNFCCC) and the Biodiversity Convention (UNCBD).
Instead of polluters paying and being regulated at the national and international level to stop pollution, the biggest atmospheric polluters who have contributed most to climate change are laying the rules on how to deal with climate change. The biotechnology industry that has caused genetic pollution by releasing genetically engineered organisms into the environment is laying down the rules on how to manage biodiversity and govern biosafety. The attempt to introduce Brai, the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India, is an example of this.
The original objective of the Climate Treaty was to put in place legally binding emission reduction targets for the historical polluters, who in the pre-globalisation era were concentrated in the rich industrial North. The treaty was destroyed in 2009 at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen by an attempt to replace it with a non-binding Copenhagen Accord. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 had introduced emissions trading, which, in effect, meant that the polluter got paid, not punished. The big industrial polluters were first paid by allowing them to get private rights to our atmospheric commons. Then the polluters got paid by making profits through carbon trading. Profits increased and emissions also increased. Climate chaos is worse today than it was in 1992. And the polluters look for new avenues to make money and grab resources. Now they want to commodify the ecological functions and services that nature provides. This will be the big climate debate in Rio+20.
The objective of Climate Treaty was the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable and equitable use. That objective has been subverted and is being increasingly replaced by objectives of trade in genetic resources, profits and privatisation. The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing, adopted in 2010, restricts access only to global players, ignoring the access of local communities. It treats as utilisation only utilisation for research and commerce, ignoring the survival needs of local communities. It is, in fact, legalised biopiracy as it enables transfer of genetic wealth from local communities to global corporations. It undermines the biodiversity economies and cultures that have conserved biodiversity and are necessary for conserving it for the future.
In both the Climate Treaty and the Biodiversity Convention, trade and commerce is replacing conservation and eroding the commons. Rights of corporations are edging out the rights of people.
And this change in values, from conserving and sharing to exploiting and privatising, is justified in the name of economic progress and economic growth. Yet, the economic paradigm for which the earth and the society are being pillaged and destroyed is itself in deep crisis. Look at the number of farmers committing suicides and hunger and malnutrition in India.
A paradigm shift is desperately needed. And it will not come from those who have created the crisis and who are looking for new ways to extend the life of the greed economy by commodifying and privatising all life on earth. They will come to Rio+20 to paint the “greed economy” green, and call it the “green economy”. And they will have powerful governments on their side.
Movements for ecological sustainability, social justice and deep democracy will come to Rio+20 with another paradigm — one centred on the rights of mother earth, the rights of future generations, of women, indigenous communities and farmers. It is this epic contest between a destructive and dying outmoded paradigm and a life-enhancing emergent paradigm that will be the most significant aspect of Rio+20. The outcome of this contest will determine the future of humanity.
None of us are immune from the crisis or the response to it. None of us are bystanders. We are all immersed in the processes that are either threatening the planet and our own future, or finding creative ways to shape a sustainable and a just future. Every day is an earth summit in our lives. And each of us is negotiating our collective fate on earth.
Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
The Wall Street Journal recently covered an interview with Dr Dutta , who is a genetic engineer and a Deputy Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Dr Dutta has proposed that India’ collection of 40000 seed varieties be handed over to global corporations for research. When corporations do research, they take patents. In effect, Dr Dutta’s proposal is one of legalising Biopiracy, the piracy of Biodiversity through patents
Navdanya has fought , and won many cases of Biopiracy- Neem,Basmati,Wheat etc, we have also shown how global Seed corporations are stealing Climate Resilient traits in our report, The Biopiracy of Climate Resilient Crops. They have already taken 1500 patents to have a monopoly on Seeds in times of Climate Change. They have not invented the climate resilient traits. They have stolen them from varieties evolved carefully by farmers over millennia .We need these seeds in the commons, both because they are the result of collective , cumulative innovation, and because farmers rights to Seed comes first.
Dr Dutta is in effect proposing that this trend of Biopiracy be accelerated.
Dr Dutta’ s own research is in genetic engineering. There are claims that he has manipulated his data. He was also caught violating India’ s Biosafety laws by approving an isolation distance of 10 metres in place of the mandated 200 metrs to prevent genetic contamination. What is worse, he gave this fraudulent approval to his wife for the GM rice trials. This is also a conflict of interest.
In any case , the biodiversity heritage of 40,000 crop varieties is not the property of Dr Dutta , or even of the Government. It is the collective, common property, the commons, that has been conserved , bred , used and exchanged by farming communities over thousands of years. This is Seed Sovereignty.
That is why we have started the movement for Seed Freedom. If you are concerned about Biopiracy of the kind being promoted by Dr Dutta , and the Seed monopolies this will lead to, join us in the Defense of Seed Freedom.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
we look forward to hearing from you to stop Biopiracy and Patents on Seeds.
Posted on Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Reaping gold through cotton, and newsprint
The same full page appeared twice in three years, the first time as news, the second time as an advertisement
“Not a single person from the two villages has committed suicide.”continue reading